Lia Flattery, of Trinity News, writes:
Four Trinity medical students were refused entry to Palestine’s West Bank this summer…The two male and two female students, who have asked to remain anonymous, returned to Dublin in late June after being detained for questioning in Tel Aviv. They were due to travel to the West Bank with Medical Overseas Voluntary Electives (MOVE), a Trinity-based charity that facilitates third year students wishing to complete a one-month placement abroad during the summer...
…Arriving in Tel Aviv in the early hours of 1st July, the students were stopped by airport customs officers who queried the purpose of their trip. “We told the truth,” our source said. In a letter to the students, seen by Trinity News, the PCRF confirmed that they were coming as a “non-political humanitarian relief group.” According to our source, he and his fellow students believed this would be sufficient proof of their motives. He said that it was routine practice for the PCRF to have foreign surgeons or doctors visit the hospital to carry out procedures or train the local staff.
However, the letter “aroused suspicion” among the customs officers and the students were led away for questioning. “We were put into a side room,” he said. “We probably spent about an hour in there. And we were called one by one for five to 10 minutes each just to give our details, our name, address, phone numbers, what our purpose was, what our parents’ names were and then we were sent back to the room.”
The volunteers were then led into a second waiting room, where one of the male students was taken away and questioned individually for, our source estimated, “45 minutes to an hour.” According to our source, this student was seated in a room with a two-way mirror and was subject to aggressive questioning with “a camera in his face.” His interrogator identified himself as an employee of the Ministry of the Interior and told the student that he was a “human lie detector.”
The student was questioned extensively about how the members of the group knew each other, his personal views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their purpose for travelling to the West Bank and why they had chosen to volunteer in Palestine instead of in an Israeli hospital. Our source said the interrogator “wanted to know everything about me… what my parents do, if I am a member of any anti-democratic groups, and whether I was politically active… what my hobbies were.” The official tried to “get us to admit that we were going to Gaza, which of course we weren’t. You can’t get into Gaza via Israel – the border’s closed. You’d have to go via Egypt. We’d no intention of going to Gaza… He was just trying to provoke us, just trying to make us say something incriminating so that he could deport us.”